“Refinancing Home Care: The Unbearable Workload of Nurses in Belgium”

2023-05-24 12:06:00

Today, several organizations in the home care sector have decided to demonstrate in Brussels and Wallonia for a refinancing of care. In Belgium, it is the Inami which sets the scales for these acts. These amounts are considered too low, particularly with the increase in the cost of living. Our teams followed Rachel, a home nurse in Liège.

Every morning, Rachel, a home nurse, starts a care marathon in Liège. “32 on the day”she says. “It’s usual.”
She has been doing her job for 25 years but today the workload has become unbearable. “I wouldn’t want to be in his place”, sympathizes one of his patients. She does not stop. “Normally it’s 5 treatments in an hour, the Inami counted 10 minutes each but we told them that it was not possible, that it was 15 minutes, you shouldn’t rush the patient anyway…”, she explains. “Time to undress him, wash him, dress him…”

End of the day at 9 p.m.

Not even time to have coffee with another patient, Stefania. “I need 5 minutes spent to be profitable here, maximum ten minutes…”laments Rachel with a big heart who will still take out the trash of her hostess.

Five toilets in an hour, including travel… Not to mention the vagaries of traffic, which waste Rachel’s time for her patients. “Liège is well known for its traffic jams, especially with the tram and all the works, and in winter we depend on the weather…”she says at the wheel of her vehicle.

Patients follow one another all day long for this home nurse, as for all the other home helpers. If all goes well, she should be done around 9 p.m.

An unprofitable scale

In Belgium, it is the Inami which sets the amounts for nursing acts. For example, for an intramuscular injection, the Inami sets a maximum of €7.16, to which the nurse deducts €6.26 for travel expenses and 38 cents for equipment. At the end of the day, there are therefore 52 cents left in the nurse’s pocket… To be profitable, this injection should be carried out in 35 seconds. “It’s impossible”says Timoty Prevot, general manager at Aide & Soins à domicile. “These are inhumane conditions for the patients and inhumane for the workers who cannot work like this at a frantic pace for days and days…”

This Tuesday, several organizations in the home care sector decided to demonstrate in Brussels and Wallonia to demand a refinancing of care.

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